Kagetora Vol. 4 (Del Rey)

kageheaderReaders, by way of author Akira Segami's sexual staging, truly feel what it must be like for Kagetora to struggle with his love for a skimpily-dressed Yuki.



208 Pages B&W; $10.95

(W / A: Akira Segami)



Summer vacation at a resort complete with bikini-clad women: what more could a horny teenager ask for? Not much, readers might imagine, especially with all the skin writer/artist Akira Segami shows in volume three of Kagetora. Set first at an idyllic resort, readers, by way of Segami's sexual staging, truly feel what it must be like for the young ninja Kagetora to struggle with his love for a skimpily-dressed Yuki, the girl he loves but is bound to protect and, thus, cannot have. The fact that Yuki turns around every so often with a zinger like, "I wanted fun memories of us spending the summer together," makes it all the more difficult for Kagetora to maintain his poise.


The cover to Kagetora Vol. 4. Click thumbnail for a larger image.Of course one can almost expect that at a resort with a couples' race course, there is no way Segami would let readers avoid the inevitable drama that would follow the competition. Essentially, this turns out to be more of an excuse to have the female characters mysteriously lose their bikinis and catch their bathing suit bottoms on random objects, thus exposing themselves to the boys. It seems like Segami believes this is a necessary part to each of the volumes, but thankfully for readers, he gets most of this out of his system within the first quarter of story.


Once free of Segami's Skinemax-ing, readers can get into the meat of this particular installment, which continues to elaborate on Kagetora's struggle to avoid admitting his love to Yuki, who, let's face it, pretty much knows he likes her anyway. When his brother Taka enters the picture, readers learn about the loving relationship the two had to their mother, as well as the sadness of her passing. A particularly potent blend of alcohol brought back by Taka for Kagetora also makes for a humorous addition to the tale, when Yuki mistakenly drinks it thinking it is juice and finds herself sparring with Kagetora.


Then comes Tomoe Onee, an assistant instructor and friend of Yuki who, after sparring with him and winning, verifies for Yuki that Kagetora is truly the person that should be watching out for her. Despite her advances, Kagetora remains strong and rededicates himself to Yuki, which pleases Tomoe Onee and adds a little more to the complexity of Kagetora and Yuki's relationship. Their New Year's celebratory leap up a hillside sunrise brings the story back to the central relationship, illustrated expressively by Segami.


The artwork, aside from its strong detail, is well sequenced. Perhaps not noticed by most readers, and the source for much confusion in some books, the natural transition of scenes is something Segami has a particular talent for. Even the dynamic moments are clearly illustrated and simple to follow. Inking is rich and tones are blended well enough to entice most readers into a sunny-side vacation. The juxtaposition of summer and winter scenes provides a great transition into the more heartfelt moments, as well, and creates much greater of an impact to a story that seems to be earning its legs. | James Nokes

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